Induced labor and c-sections are all the rage among patients and doctors alike. They're also more expensive and dangerous than the alternative.
Roughly 9 months after conception, pregnancies end. And in the popular imagination, things proceed as follows: the woman is surprised when her water breaks, she is quickly put into a car, and en route to the hospital a telephone call is placed to the obstetrician, who is invariably roused from bed, Heathcliff-Huckstable-style, before departing to deliver the baby. Familiar! But unpopular too. Going into labor at an unpredictable moment is stressful for parents, being on call is loathed by doctors, and scheduled births, especially by cesarean section, are more profitable for hospitals. The result is that more than one in three American babies is born by cesarean section.
Use of the procedure increased more than 50 percent between 1996 and 2007, a HealthGrades study found, and in the Golden State, a recent California Watch investigation found that "women are at least 17 percent more likely to have a cesarean section at a for-profit hospital than at one that operates as a non-profit. A surgical birth can bring in twice the revenue of a vaginal delivery." As a fiscal matter, this is problematic: we're spending a lot more on childbirth than is necessary at a time when health care inflation is bringing us closer to fiscal ruin.